Gladwell: My inspiration for independent thought

I received my provisional acceptance into Journalism 3 on Friday and I’m still excited about my future even though my University is currently in shambles…sigh.

Anyways, I decided to publish a three part series of my motivation letters and essays detailing my thoughts on what Journalism means to me.

Here’s the first one:


My Favorite Writer

“Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.” ― Malcolm GladwellWhat the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

At first I thought it impossible to peg one author above others. I was not wrong.

Over the years, I have discovered people who capture various things: from living-in-a-cupboard-under-the-stairs and going-on-an-adventure, to living in boarding school as a teenage boy and engaging with allegories Vedic mythology, I have experienced the full range of human emotions, history, the eternal fight of good-versus-evil, and discovered my strengths and solutions through words in 15 years of unrestricted library access.

University changed that for me. Although I engaged with academic texts, I still found myself visiting the shelves holding Baldacci, Brown, Rowling, Prattchet, and Dhal to break the monotony of abstracts and chapter exercises. On one of these visits I found my way to a section on the lowest tear with books written by a social journalist, a highlighter of strange data and discoverer of overlooked facts which influenced and shaped society today. Malcolm Timothy Gladwell’s words awoke something new, a unique brand of magic that springs from reading about the physical world and people who contributed their time and ideas to society. I realized that I was reading The Tipping Point, my introduction to his books, blog, and columns for the New Yorker, in between each lecture. His words: measured and eloquent. His presentation: flawless. His views: influential. His vocabulary: unashamedly unacademic. His writing was a rare collection of people’s ideas, culture, and even their upbringing, all of which nudged modern society to greater heights.

Gladwell chronicled the ideology and impact of John Rock’s contribution to female contraception, correlated commercial plane crashes to the way power relations work in different countries and cultures, and even explored what makes an underdog’s success seem improbable until they actually just…achieve it. He drew my attention to how simple it was to tell someone a story without “dumbing it down”. He made history, social challenges, politics, success, and even the science behind ketchup’s popularity accessible. He wrote like he was telling someone who could comprehend the complex social theories underpinning modern trends, allowing even a freshman like me appreciate the advances of the human race without the restraints of academic jargon. He converses with the reader about the world’s most pointedly ignored aspects. He inspires a sense of curiosity about what is overlooked, and why. As a reader and student, I am inspired to write in pursuit of accessibility of information to understand our world through what has been overlooked. From science and technology, to fashion and architecture, journalists are armed with words to describe and dissect everything to a level that everyone can understand. So they, like me, can be inspired to think independently and appreciate the world we thrive in.


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